Haxton, Sullivan qualify for NCAA championship meet

By Karl Striepe

I like to consider myself a fairly good runner. You know, a bit better than the common rabble, that everyday jogger you might pass out on the lakefront while riding on your fancy and delicate bicycle.

And were you to ask me if I could run a mile in a little under five minutes, I would smile at you in a pitying way, nod my head slightly, and gravely respond, ?yes.? And if you were to then ask me if I could run two miles in a little under five minutes per mile, I would again respond in the affirmative.

But if you were to then ask me if I could run six miles in a little under five minutes per mile, I would have to hang my head in shame, blush violently, and sadly respond, ?No, no. I cannot do that.?

But I know someone who can. And that man is third-year distance runner Tom Haxton, who performed that very feat this Saturday at the Cardinal Classic at North Central College, in the unsuspecting Chicago suburb of Naperville.

Haxton ran the 10,000 meters?a little more than six miles?in 30:21.6, a time that averages out to a little less than five minutes per mile. And with that, Haxton automatically qualified for the NCAA Division III Championships, and placed himself third among those already qualified.

Head coach Chris Hall was proud of Haxton?s accomplishment. ?Tom had an outstanding race. It was good to see him from the very start of that long race go out to meet not only an NCAA standard but one of the top times in the country,? said Hall. ?It was windy and if he had gone out a little slower to get help from some other runners that would have been understandable, but his goal was the NCAAs, and he took the challenge on from the opening lap of a 25-lap race.?

Also qualifying for the national meet was third-year Patrick Sullivan, who finished fourth in the 1500-meter run in 3:54.77, just under the provisional-qualifying time of 3:55.50. ?Patrick didn?t have what I felt was his best race of the season, but he still met an NCAA standard,? Hall said. ?He got caught a little off guard with too fast an opening lap and backed off way too much on his second lap. The good news is he responded afterwards and still salvaged the race with a quality time.?

With their impressive performances, Haxton and Sullivan led the men?s track and field team to a seventh place overall finish in the meet that featured some of the best Division III teams of the Midwest.

Fourth-year Peter Bugg had what could be called the third-best, although by no means less impressive, individual performance, finishing third in the 3K steeplechase with a time of 9:29.93. Bugg just missed out on the provisional qualifying time of 9:23.50, and might have hit the mark had he not fallen over the final barrier.

Several members of the men?s sprint squad also had impressive performances. Fourth-year Ryan Raimo finished third in the 200-meter dash in 22.74 and was followed by second-year Brandon Halcott, who was eighth with a time of 23.29. Second-year Greg Morgan finished seventh in the 400-meter dash in 52.03.

Raimo, Halcott, Morgan, and Sullivan together finished second in the 4 x 400 relay race with a time of 3:24.65.

In the women?s sprints first-years Obi Onochie and Gabby Jones each had solid finishes in the 100-meter dash, finishing third and sixth respectively in 13.27 and 13.52. And fourth-year Jelena Pantel finished second in the 400-meter dash in 1:00.37.

First-year Jessica Winter won the women?s 1,500-meter run in 4:47.63. Second-year Emily Kay had the double of the day finishing seventh in the 1,500 in 5:00.50, and coming back to finish seventh again in the 800-meter run in 2:24.45.

In the women?s 10K, second-year Erin Steiner finished second in an impressive debut time of 38:11.90, and fourth-year Clarisse Mesa and first-year Annie Sanders finished fifth and sixth in the 3K steeplechase in times of 12:05.53 and 12:11.31 respectively.

Both teams will race again this Saturday at the Millikin Invitational in Decatur, Illinois.